Opening the Doors to Dialogue

The Niagara Falls (Ontario) History Museum hosted a very moving exhibit entitled “Opening the Doors to Dialogue” which we saw in mid-September 2019.

The exhibit is dedicated to the 150,000+ children who passed through the doors of 140 Canadian Indian Residential schools across 10 provinces over 70 years.

It celebrates the 75,000 former children who survive today. And mourns the 5,000 children who never got to know what was beyond those doors. (All numbers are estimates. Record keeping was appalling, apparently.)

Six doors from various Canadian Indian Residential schools were the subject of this art project designed to encourage conversation and healing by 120 survivors of these schools.

Cayuga bead artist Sam Thomas had the idea, secured the funding and ran the workshops.

Church representatives attended each of the 43 art sessions ( former teachers and administrators of these religiously run, government- funded schools) so they could learn how brutal the system was.

Make no mistake, the US and Australia also created a perfect system to annihilate the Indigenous peoples in their borders:

– Rip the children away from their families and surroundings

– Discipline severely (beatings, no food, sexual assault, lock ups) if the children sing, speak, dance, write, or play an instrument that harkens back to their roots.

– Convert to Catholicism or Christianity and stamp out any memory or stories of other gods or spirits.

– Adopt them into white families.

This door has 140 strawberries on it… One for each school. Strawberries represent cleansing and healing.

One side, and the other side…

40 white doves for peace, security, hope, and unity.

Moving through the door to explore the greater world, by Mohawk artist Shelly Niro.

And the other side.

If there was a write up of this next door, I didn’t get a picture of it. Here’s one side…

And the other…

This one had messages decoupaged onto the window.

The other side was left raw and unembellished.

A very important exhibit in my mind. I hope someday the United States will encourage and pay for a similar project.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s